Category Archives: horse racing

Grand National History Makers

In the spring of 2020 a worldwide Coronavirus pandemic has effectively shut down most of the sporting calendar for the foreseeable future. With regard to one of the biggest horse races in the UK, an innovative approach has been adopted to temporarily fill in the void.

History Maker 1: On the morning of April 4th I was surprised to find that a Virtual Grand National TV event is to be shown, at the time when the real race would have been run. Using 21st century CGI technology, a computer program has number crunched data regarding the 40 horse field, to enable a hypothetical race to be run producing a set of alternate reality results? Bookmakers are taking bets and all profits made will be donated toward the NHS, which is a commendable gesture. The algorithms are only as good as the quality of the program design and the data fed into it, and I suspect those in the know will already be aware of a foregone conclusion. However, it will provide a much needed element of cheer for sports and non-sports fans alike. And the 2020 Virtual Grand National will almost certainly be considered a history maker by sports reporters in the future, when they reference 2020 as a NOT RUN year. But technology cannot replicate the drama that has undoubtedly influenced and shaped the results of this historic race.

History Maker 2: Another NOT RUN race year was 1993 when the original start was delayed due to animal rights protesters. Then two shambolic false starts followed, where riders and horses got tangled up in the starting tape. Despite the desperate attempt by a flagman to halt proceedings, seven mounts continued racing going into the second circuit. The outcome of this farcical set of events was that John White rode Esha Ness to a believed National victory, only to find the effort declared void and a re-run deemed not possible. At the time, and to this day, I’m disgusted with that decision, although I could understand the reasoning for it. But in my humble opinion, the second false start could be likened to a mass pile up at the first hurdle, with few horses remaining in contention and the final result standing. So Esha Ness competed against a vastly reduced field, but the effort was no less valiant.

History Maker 3: Foinavon ridden by John Buckingham won the 1967 race at 100-1! How did a rank outsider win such an illustrious race you may ask yourselves? Mainly by the horse and rider both keeping their heads and managing to avoid a massive pileup at the 23rd fence, wiping out a large proportion of the field. It just goes to show how the nature of the race shows no mercy to any horse or rider, no matter how favoured in the betting stakes.

History Maker 4: Devon Loch ridden by Dick Francis inexplicably faltered in the home run of the 1956 race. Literally with the winning post in sight, and any contender far behind, victory seemed assured, despite the long run in. Suddenly the horse appeared to spring forward as if to jump and landed on its belly with two legs forward two legs back. Although the horse got to its feet it had ground to a halt, and ESB with rider D.V. Dick rode past to win by ten lengths. With hindsight, I’ve seen some wonder if Devon Loch thought another jump was there, his breakdown apparently coming exactly opposite the water jump. But I wouldn’t be surprised if the horse suffered a sudden jolt of pain, from cramp or perhaps a small clot somewhere in the hind quarters that momentarily paralysed the animal. Undoubtedly after such a gruelling race, to suffer a debilitating affliction that snatches victory away yards from the finishing post makes Devon Loch the unluckiest loser in Grand National history. Personally speaking, I’m well aware of a sudden jolt of pain that literally stops me in my tracks after a busy day, and the jerk reaction I have to it, does remind me of the Devon Loch incident.

History Maker 5: A happy winning combination the victorious team of 1981 Aldaniti and Bob Champion. Both rider and horse had overcome seemingly insurmountable odds to ride in the National together. Bob Champion had battled a terminal cancer diagnosis and Aldaniti had endured two bouts of tendon trouble and a fractured hock-bone. But a good horse and talented jockey in times of difficulty need an understanding trainer, and for this duo that man was Josh Gifford. He assured Champion his job was secure and overseen Aldaniti’s treatment and subsequent training.

History Maker 6: The 1997 National race was postponed on the Saturday after a bomb threat from the IRA. The Aintree race course was evacuated and the race re-scheduled for the following Monday, when Lord Gyllene ridden by Tony Dobbin won by a good distance at 14-1.

History Maker 7: Between 1973 and 1977 Red Rum won three Grand National races in 1973, 74 & 77 coming second in 1975 & 76. No other horse has achieved three wins of this illustrious race, although at the time of writing Tiger Roll had two successive wins in 2018 & 2019, and would have been a main contender for a third victory this year. But the history books will have to wait until 2021 to see if Red Rum’s success rate can be equalled.

However innovative the Virtual Grand National this year will be as a concept, the fact is the truth of this historic race will remain stranger than any fiction created by CGI.


On another fine day at Cheltenham the course Going was officially Good.

A glorious site the cheltenham grandstand. image credit @Channel4Racing
A glorious site the Cheltenham Grandstand. Image credit @Channel4Racing

1.30 JCB Triumph Hurdle (Grade 1): Distance 2m 1f: Fences 8: 15R

The back marker from the start was Footpad about three to four lengths behind the main field at the first fence. Big McIntosh made all the early running gaining a lead of three to four lengths over Let’s Dance by the second hurdle. Following behind came Clan Des Obeaux, Who Dares Wins, Sceau Royal, Apple’s Jade, Frodon, Ivanovich Gorbatov, Gibralfaro, Zubayr, Connetable, Leoncavallo, Consul De Thaix, Tommy Silver and lastly Footpad. As Big McIntosh remained at the head of the field Ivanovich Gorbatov kept a steady 8th/9th position in the pack. With three to go Apple’s Jade had caught the leader Big McIntosh with Gibralfaro in third. Only two from home and Ivanovich Gorbatov still remained further back in the field but was moving quickly to reduce the three length lead advantage that Apple’s Jade had with B J Cooper on board. Also finding space to travel through the field showing a deft touch was Ruby Walsh on Footpad. At the final flight Ivanovich Gorbatov was challenging Apple’s Jade out in front whilst Footpad had gone from last to third between the seventh and final fence! Ivanovich Gorbatov took victory by 1 ¼ lengths as 9-2 race favourite. In second came Apple’s Jade at 12-1 six lengths ahead of Footpad in third at 5-1 2F odds.

2.10 Vincent O’Brien County Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3): Distance 2m 1f: Fences 8: 26R

SternRubin was off and running first along with Zamdy Man and an eager Great Field making the front three going into the second flight. MontBazon was a faller here and jockey Wayne Hutchinson received treatment as the race continued. This resulted in the final hurdle being by-passed but thankfully Hutchinson was able to walk off the course unaided. With six to go Superb Story was about half way down the field but travelling well alongside All Yours and Draco, as Great Field held the front position with SternRubin and Zamdy Man on the shoulder. Three out and Wait For Me was making ground and Superb Story was going strong. By this point SternRubin had taken the lead with Fethard Player moving into second and Great Field slipping to third. With only one hurdle remaining Superb Story managed to manoeuvre between SternRubin and Fethard Player to take them on. At the finishing post Superb Story at 8-1 was victorious by 2 ½ lengths over 33-1 Fethard Player. Three and a half lengths behind 33-1 SternRubin was third just a head in front of fourth placed 7-1 JF Wait For Me.

Superb Story has a fairytale finish. Image credit @Channel4Racing
Superb Story has a fairytale finish. Image credit @Channel4Racing

2.50 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle (SPA) (Grade 1): Distance 3m: Fences12: 19R NR Solstice Star

Up For Review and Barters Hill met the first flight ahead of the field and formed a four horse wall with Atlantic Gold and Allysson Monterg by the second. With a circuit remaining the front of field read Up For Review, Barters Hill, Champers On Ice, Atlantic Gold, Allysson Monterg, Jonniesofa, Definite Outcome, Aurillac with UNoWhatIMeanHarry and Fagan off the pace. Long Dog ridden by Ruby Walsh took a bad tumble before the eighth from home and Bleu Et Rouge fell with five to go. UNoWhatIMeanHarry and Fagan had made great progress travelling through the field and occupied third and fifth place respectively two from home, as Champers On Ice took on the unbeaten Barters Hill as they charged for the final flight. Jockey Ruby Walsh standing beside the final fence indicated to the riders to move wide as they jumped, possibly due to something on the course he felt had caused his horse to stumble. On landing the last hurdle with the home straight looming it was UNoWhatIMeanHarry that had a small advantage over Barters Hill as Champers On Ice and Fagan followed. At the finishing post 1 ¼ lengths separated 11-1 UNoWhatIMeanHarry and 33-1 Fagan in second place. One and a half lengths behind the front two 20-1 Champers On Ice was third 1 ¾ lengths ahead of fourth placed Barters Hill at 4-1 2F odds.

UNoWhatIMeanHarry being led into the winners enclosure. Image credit @Channel4Racing
UNoWhatIMeanHarry being led into the winners enclosure. Image credit @Channel4Racing

3.30 Timico Cheltenham GOLD CUP Chase (Grade 1): Distance 3m 2 ½ f: Fences 22: 9R NR Road To Riches

At the first flight Smad Place blundered but kept poll position at the head of the field. With 15 to go Smad Place led O’Faolains Boy, Djakadam, Don Cossack, Cue Card, On His Own, Carlingford Lough, Don Poli and Irish Cavalier the back marker. Ten from home Smad Place had a two length advantage over O’Faolains Boy with Don Cossack, Djakadam and Cue Card forming a front five grouping, whilst Don Poli lagged around eight lengths behind amongst the others. But the early fast pace had a telling effect as Smad Place and O’Faolains Boy began to fade. Cue Card was challenging going into the third last fence but fell heavily leaving Don Cossack and Djakadam to fight for victory. As Brian Cooper drove his charge forward he opened up a three to four length advantage over Djakadam between flights 21 and 22. In the finishing home straight 9-2 Djakadam kept fighting but couldn’t reign in the 9-4 race favourite Don Cossack. The winning distance was 4 ½ lengths and ten lengths behind Djakadam in third place came Don Poli at 9-2 odds.

Don Cossack leaps the final flight. Image credit @Channel4Racing
Don Cossack leaps the final flight. Image credit @Channel4Racing

4.10 St James’s Palace Foxhunter Chase Challenge Cup: Distance 3m 2 ½ f: Fences 22: 24R

Victoria Pendleton the Olympic cycling champion having taken up horse riding was aboard Pacha Du Polder in this race. She was last in the field beside Need To Know going into the first flight. Pendleton had slightly improved Pacha Du Polder’s position to third last followed by Morito and Camden with 13 to go. After the first circuit the main running order was Alskamatic, Major Malarkey, Current Exchange, Paint The Clouds, Impact Area, Cave Hunter, Richmond and Pacha Du Polder was fifth last at this point. Major Malarkey had gained a five length lead over Alskamatic ten from home and On The Fringe was around twelfth going into the back straight. Camden pulled up with about seven fences remaining. Five out and Major Malarkey had increased his advantage to around seven or eight lengths with Current Event in second Alskamatic third and Mendip Express fourth. But two horses not really in any contention so far were fast making up ground On The Fringe and Morito. Although Major Malarkey still had a good lead two from home against Current Event by the final flight On The Fringe and Morito were piling on the pressure and eating up the ground. At the finishing post 13-8 favourite On The Fringe won by a neck over 14-1 Marito. A length behind Paint The Clouds the 9-2 2F was third and Current Event at 14-1 odds came in a further length back. Pacha Du Polder having picked off the competition came in a credible fifth.

On The Fringe & Miss N Carberry. Image credit @Channel4Racing
On The Fringe & Miss N Carberry. Image credit @Channel4Racing

4.50 Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdele: Distance 2m 4f 56y: Fences unknown: 24R

Winner: Ibis Du Rheu 14-1 by 1 ¼ lengths over Second: Flying Angel at 8-1 2F odds. 1 ¼ lengths behind in Third: Sky Khan 50-1 six lengths in front of Fourth: Tully East at 50-1 odds.

5.30 Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Chase Challenge Cup (Handicap) (Grade 3): Distance 2m 62y: Fences unknown: 24R

Winner: Solar Impulse 28-1 by 3 ¾ lengths over Second: Dandridge 8-1 J2F just half a length in front of Third: Rock the World 9-2 F by 1 ¾ lengths over Fourth: Savello at 25-1 odds.


Lovely clear blue skies and sunny conditions greeted race goers today with the official ground Going as Good (Good to Soft in places). Will St Patrick bring more luck to the Irish this week?

The Luck of the Irish 6 from 7 wins on day 3. Image credit @Channel4Racing
The Luck of the Irish 6 from 7 wins on day 3. Image credit @Channel4Racing

1.30 JLT Novices Chase (Grade 1): Distance 2m 4f: 16 Fences: 9R NR King’s Odyssey

Drama unfolded when a standing start resulted in Zabana not even beginning the race but unseating its jockey instead. Davy Russell had his back to the starter at a ninety degree angle, and was making a turn when the race got underway. Outlander was severely impeded as well but did manage to get going. The early back markers were Three Musketeers and As De Mee with Bristol De Mai and Black Hercules meeting the first hurdle ahead of the field. With twelve to go Bristol De Mai led Mount Gunnery followed by Black Hercules on the inside, Outlander, Garde La Victoire, L’Ami Serge and the two back markers. Loose horse Zabana ran across the front of the field going into the back straight but didn’t cause too much trouble mercifully. Three fences later Three Musketeers at the back began to show signs of improvement in the race, whilst Black Hercules joined Bristol De Mai at the front. Garde La Victoire and Outlander were fallers four from home. The running order going into the next fence was Bristol De Mai, Black Hercules, L’Ami Serge, Three Musketeers, As De Mee and Mount Gunnery. L’Ami Serge who was travelling wide cut across Black Hercules at the second last hurdle due to a tendency of jumping toward the left. With L’Ami Serge now on the rails Black Hercules had the space to accelerate toward the last flight unhindered by the remainder of the field. At the finish Black Hercules a 4-1 joint favourite took victory by three lengths over the other 4-1 joint favourite Bristol De Mai. A length behind in third place came L’Ami Serge at 8-1 odds. Black Hercules gave jockey Ruby Walsh his fiftieth Cheltenham Festival winner.

Black Hercules & Ruby Walsh. Image credit @Channel4Racing
Black Hercules & Ruby Walsh. Image credit @Channel4Racing

2.10 Pertemps Network Final (Listed Handicap Hurdle): Distance 3m: 12 Fences: 24R

Flintham made most of the early running and had a six length advantage at one point over Rolling Maul. With nine fences to go Western Warrior made a bad mistake and was last but one in the field with only Box Office behind. The front two remained the same with four to go as If In Doubt picked up on the outside and the field began to reduce Flintham’s leading margin. Mall Dini was going better two from home as Flintham looked vulnerable and under pressure. At the finish Mall Dini at 14-1 odds had a ¾ length winning margin over 14-1 Arpege D’Alene, only a head in front of 10-1 If In Doubt. One and a half lengths behind Taglietelle at 14-1 came in fourth.

2.50 Ryanair Chase (Grade 1): Distance 2m 5f: 17 Fences: 15R

At the first fence Vautour held the sixth or seventh spot whilst Captain Conan and Oscar Rock were the back markers. With fourteen jumps to go Dynaste, Oscar Rock and Champagne West were at the rear of the field as Village Vic and Road To Riches strode out in front. Vautour travelling nicely on the inside was third followed by Smashing, Al Ferof, Josses Hill and Gilgamboa. The head of the field remained much the same and by eight from home Valseur Lido was beginning to make headway and was placed around eighth. With four jumps remaining Vibrato Valtat fell and Vautour had a half length advantage over Road To Riches at the front followed by Al Ferof, Village Vic and Valseur Lido. At the final turn two from home Vautour accelerated gaining a three length lead over Road To Riches with Al Ferof and Valseur Lido behind. With every stride Vautour’s pace increased and he was a worthy evens favourite winner by six lengths ahead of Valseur Lido at 11-1 just half a length ahead of Road To Riches the 7-2 2F.

3.30 Ryanair World Hurdle: Distance 3m: Fences 12: 12R NR Un Temps Pour Tout

Thistleback winner of the Ryanair World Hurdle. Image credit @Channel4Racing
Thistleback winner of the Ryanair World Hurdle. Image credit @Channel4Racing

With nine to go the running order was Cole Harden, Kilcooley, Martello Tower, Bobs Worth, Saphir Du Rheu, At Fishers Cross, Whisper, Alpha Des Obeaux, Thistlecrack, Knockara Beau, Aux Ptits Soins and Lieutenant Colonel the back marker. Two fences later and Thistleback had moved into fourth place having powered through the field. Three from home and third placed Kilcooley and Lieutenant Colonel both made mistakes, recovered but fell from any contention. At this point Cole Harden had a ¾ length advantage over Thistleback and at the second last fence both horses jumped together alongside Alpha Des Obeaux. Thistleback then surged toward the final flight and the finishing post unchallenged and secured victory by seven lengths as evens favourite. Alpha Des Obeaux at 8-1 was second and twenty two lengths behind Bobs Worth at 33-1 rolled in third.

Bobs Worth with trainer Nicky Henderson. Image credit @Channel4Racing
Bobs Worth with trainer Nicky Henderson. Image credit @Channel4Racing

4.10 Merribelle Stable Plate (Grade 3 Handicap CHS): Distance 2m 4f 166y: Fences: 22R NR Tenor Nivernais and La Vaticane

The standing start in this race went much better than in the first. Sadly NiceOneFrankie suffered a fatal accident during the race.

Winner: Empire Of Dirt 16-1 by four lengths over Second: Tango Du Juilley at 33-1 by 1 ¼ lengths over Third: Kings Palace 11-1. A further 2 ½ lengths behind in Fourth: Full Shift at 7-1.

A giant leap for Empire Of Dirt. Image credit @Channel4Racing
A giant leap for Empire Of Dirt. Image credit @Channel4Racing

4.50 Trull House Stud Mares’ Novice Hurdle (Grade 2): Distance 2m 179 y: Fences unknown: 16R NR Tara Flow

Winner: Limini 8-11F by 4 ½ lengths over Second: Dusky Legend 50-1 by 2 ½ lengths over Third: Bloody Mary 7-1 just a half length in front of Robins Reef at 25-1.

5.30 Kim Muir Challenge Cup Handicap Chase (Amateur Riders): Distance 3m 2f: Fences unknown: 22R NR Your Busy and Waldorf Salad

Winner: Cause Of Causes 9-2 2F by a massive 12 lengths over Second: A Good Skin at 14-1 just half a length ahead of Third: SilverGrove 16-1. Five lengths behind in Fourth: Knock House at 16-1.


The weather looked bright and sunny at Cheltenham today with the course Going described as Good (Good to Soft in places).

Cheltenham In The Sun. Image credit @Channel4Racing
Cheltenham In The Sun. Image credit @Channel4Racing

1.30 Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle (Grade1): Distance 2m 5f: 10 Fences: 11R

Thomas Hobson took the initiative from the start with Its’AFreeBee alongside and with eight to go AToiPhil, OO Seven and Ghost River were bunched just behind the front two runners. Not a great deal changed in this order as the race progressed although with six jumps remaining Thomas Hobson had pulled a two length advantage over Its’AFreeBee. It was at this point with a circuit to go that Yala Enki pulled up. OO Seven on the inside rail had to fight for room with AToiPhil directly alongside and Ghost River pushing on the outside, but all three horses still had Its’AFreeBee and Thomas Hobson narrowly out in front with four hurdles left. The back marker from the start remained Vigil. With three flights to go and the field tightly bunched Yanworth was forced to travel on the outside as Ghost River and Bello Conti kept him wide. Yanworth looked to be in eighth place with about three jumps left as only two horses were travelling behind. A slight error at the third last obstacle didn’t help Yanworth at a time when Yorkhill tucked on the inside found the space to travel with ease toward the front. At the last flight Yanworth landed about four lengths behind Yorkhill and although the horse battled right to the line the gap couldn’t be closed completely. Yorkhill at    3-1 2F odds took victory by 1 ¾ lengths over 11-10 favourite Yanworth. Seven lengths behind ItsAFreeBee came in third at 33-1.

Yorkhill and Yanworth battle to the line. Image credit @Channel4Racing
Yorkhill and Yanworth battle to the line. Image credit @Channel4Racing

2.10 RSA Chase Grade 1: Distance 3m ½ f: 20 Fences: 8R

SeeYouAtMidnight took the lead going into the first with Le Mercurey in second and Roi Des Francs third. On the first circuit going into the water jump SeeYouAtMidnight still made the running with Roi Des Francs and Le Mercurey having swapped places. Just behind came Blacklion then Vyta Du Roc on the inside, No More Heroes out wide with More Of That tucked behind, and Shaneshill the back marker of the field. With nine to go Shaneshill remained detached from the field with More Than That narrowly ahead. A four horse wall comprising of Vyta Du Roc on the inside, Blacklion, No More Heroes in the middle and Le Mercurey out wide blocked the back two’s progress whilst vying for contention. Four from home all the horses jumped well and No More Heroes was in a good position to make a move. With three flights remaining Shaneshill was making up distance and closing fast, and No More Heroes landed ahead of the field. At the turn going into the home straight Roi Des Francs and No More Heroes were out in front, Vyta Du Roc had fallen off the pace and More Of That, Shaneshill and Blacklion were fighting hard for third, fourth and fifth places. Roi Des Francs pulled up suddenly and No More Heroes pushed in front two from home. But the advantage was lost at the final obstacle when No More Heroes landed awkwardly, head down with legs not seeming quite so steady. This gave Blacklion and Shaneshill the opportunity to go past and fight for victory. Blacklion at 8-1 managed to win by half a length over 16-1 Shaneshill a horse that had eaten up the ground in the latter stages of the race, and could possibly have won had it not occupied the back marker position for so long. Five lengths behind Shaneshill came third placed More Than That the 6-4 race favourite. After the race No More Heroes was given extensive treatment for a serious tendon injury and early reports suggested the horse had been put down, but at the time of writing treatment continues for the horse. More Of That was reported to have suffered a burst blood vessel.

Blacklion with Shaneshill closing. Image credit @Channel4Racing
Blacklion with Shaneshill closing. Image credit @Channel4Racing

2.50 Coral Cup (Handicap Hurdle) (Grade 3): Distance 2m 5f: 10 Fences: 26R

The first five horses to reach the first obstacle were Beast Of Burden, One For Harry, Baron Alco, Ubak and Blazer in fifth. Going into the fourth flight Baron Alco was ahead of Ubak followed by Hunters Hoof, Beast Of Burden and Blazer whilst Politologue began to get more involved in the race. Diamond King was running well in the middle of the field as was Long House Hall travelling out wide but fast. Three out Beast Of Burden fell off the pace and at the turn for the home straight Blazer put on a chase closing down Baron Alco and Ubak the front runners. At the last jump Ubak and Long House Hall at the head of the field leapt close together but Diamond King on their inside with a huge effort bypassed the two on landing and thundered toward the finishing post, securing victory by 1 ¼ lengths at 12-1. Long House Hall at 16-1 edged into second place by a neck with 28-1 Ubak in third just half a length in front of fourth placed Blazer an 8-1 2JF.

3.30 Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase (Grade 1): Distance 2m: 12 Fences: 10 R

Sizing Granite nearly fell at the first hurdle and never quite recovered pulling up with six jumps remaining. Special Tiara and Un De Sceaux took to the front from the start and Sprinter Sacre was running well in third with eleven to go. Special Tiara landed awkwardly at the third fence but kept going to maintain a half length advantage over Un De Sceaux with Sprinter Sacre around two lengths further back. Not far behind the third horse followed Somersby, God’s Own and Dodging Bullets. Special Tiara was forced wide on the corner three from home as Un De Sceaux nudged ahead. But Sprinter Sacre was in a position to move as well and by the second last hurdle had gained a four to five length lead. A massive cheer roared from the huge crowd as ten year old Sprinter Sacre with a heart condition that kept him off the track for two years strode to victory. The horse won by 3 ½ lengths at 5-1 2F odds whilst Un De Sceaux the 4-6 race favourite battled to take second place by a nose over 16-1 Special Tiara.

Nico de Boinville hugs Sprinter Sacre. Image credit @Channel4Racing
Nico de Boinville hugs Sprinter Sacre. Image credit @Channel4Racing

4.10 Glenfarclas Chase (Cross Country): Distance 3m 6f: 32 Fences: 16R

Valadom went into an early lead and stayed there before running out of steam with four jumps to go. Fifteen year old Uncle Junior was the early back marker. With 25 fences remaining Love Rory had moved to second with Any Currency third and Balthazar King sixth. The first six horses were strung out in front with Valadom having a four length advantage over Love Rory after twelve jumps. Balthazar King was a faller with around 17 to go (described by TV commentators as the second fence of the cheese wedge!). With ten obstacles remaining Valadom still led with Any Currency in second but Love Rory running in third suddenly pulled up and was out of the race. Three fences later and Josies Orders had moved into fifth place and Bless The Wings was travelling well. Four from home Valadom began to fade, Any Currency took the lead and Third Intention was looming large. With only one jump to go both Josies Orders and Quantitativeeasing were hitting a good run and Bless The Wings was making an impact too. At the final flight Any Currency and Bless The Wings were together with Josies Orders flying toward them. Victory by a length went to 11-1 Any Currency with Josies Orders the 15-8 favourite taking second place. Just 1 ¼ lengths behind Bless The Wings was third at 33-1 and five lengths back Quantitativeeasing was fourth at 9-1 odds.

Aidan Coleman wins on board 13 year old Any Currency. Image credit @Channel4Racing
Aidan Coleman wins on board 13 year old Any Currency. Image credit @Channel4Racing

 4.50 Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3): Distance 2m 87y: Fences unknown: 22 R

Winner: Diego Du Charmil 13-2 2F won by a head over Second: Romain De Senam at 20-1 odds just a half length in front of Third: Coo Star Sivola at 16-1. In Fourth: Missy Tata at 10-1 was 3 ¼ lengths behind the third horse.

5.30 Weatherby’s Champion Bumper (Standard Open National Hunt Flat) (Grade 1): Distance 2m 87y: Fences unknown: 23R NR King Uther.

Winner: BallyAndy 5-1 2F won by a nose over Second: Battleford at 25-1odds two lengths in front of Third: Bacardys at 16-1 odds just a length ahead of Fourth: Castello Sforza 11-1.


Huge crowds gathered for the first day of the Cheltenham Festival where the course Going was officially Good to Soft (soft in places).

Wonderful Cheltenham. Image credit @Channel4Racing
       Wonderful Cheltenham. Image credit @Channel4Racing

1.30 Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (Grade1 Class 1): Distance 2m ½ f: 8 Fences: 14R

The front three runners virtually throughout were Charbel, Min and Supasundae with Bellshill holding an early fourth place. Altior was around seventh in the field with six hurdles remaining. Charbel and Min took a two length lead ahead of the field on the back straight. Meanwhile Beveur D’Air had only five horses bunched behind it four from home but began to travel well through the field. On the turn going into the home straight Altior showed a turn of foot to pass Min as Charbel began to fade. Going into the final flight Altior was accelerating past Min as Supasundae faded from any contention. Altior thundered toward the finishing post showing no signs of deceleration to win by seven lengths a 4-1 2F winner. 15-8 favourite Min was second 1 ½ lengths ahead of Beveur D’Air at 10-1.

Altior. Image credit Nicky Henderson
                        Altior. Image credit Nicky Henderson

Altior gave trainer Nicky Hendersen his first Novice Hurdle success since 1992 and Nicky became the first English winning trainer of the race since Donald McCain with Cinders and Ashes in 2012.

2.10 Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy Chase (Novices Grade 1): Distance 2m: 13 Fences: 7R

Going into the third flight Sizing John, Douvan and Fox Norton held the front three spots in the field. With seven to jump Douvan had the edge over Sizing John with Vaniteux in third place just nudging ahead of Fox Norton. The Game Changer and Baltimore Rock followed the front four with Aso as the back marker with three jumps remaining. From here Vaniteux tried to accelerate on the outside of the front runners but fell on landing at the second last flight along with Baltimore Rock. Douvan remained untroubled by the fallers and won easily as the 1-4 race favourite by seven lengths ahead of 9-1 Sizing John in second 3 ¾ lengths in front of 33-1 Fox Norton in third place.

Douvan & RubyWalsh. Image credit @Channel4Racing
         Douvan & RubyWalsh. Image credit @Channel4Racing

2.50 Ultima Handicap Chase (Grade 3): Distance 3m 1f: 20 Fences: 23R NR Indian Castle

Winner: Un Temps Pour Tout 11-1 seven lengths ahead of Second: Holywell at 8-1 2F odds. Nine lengths behind in Third: The Young Master 14-1 just a length in front of Fourth: Morning Assembly at 10-1.

Un Temps Pour Tout & Tom Scudamore. Image credit @Channel4Racing
Un Temps Pour Tout & Tom Scudamore. Image credit      @Channel4Racing

All the jockeys in this race were subsequently given a one day ban for anticipating the start.

3.30 Stan James Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy (Grade 1): Distance 2m ½ f: 8 Fences: 12R NR Old Guard

From the start Annie Power looked incredibly poised out front and never really came under any threat from the rest of the field. With three flights to go and about five furlongs out My Tent Or Yours was second followed by The New One and Nichols Canyon running in the slipstream of Annie Power. Going into the final hurdle Annie Power had a clear three length advantage over My Tent Or Yours and Nichols Canyon both battling for the minor placings. At the finish Annie Power the 5-2 race favourite took victory by 4 ½ lengths over 10-1 My Tent Or Yours just a head in front of Nichols Canyon at 15-2. Annie Power became only the fourth mare to win this race and the first since the Flakey Dove success of 1994. Annie Power had tasted defeat in her previous two attempts in this race having suffered a fall at the final flight last year. Great credit must also go to the second placed My Tent Or Yours running again after 702 days off the track.

Annie Power flanked by trainer Wullie Mullins, groom & owner Rich Ricci. Image credit @Channel4Racing
Annie Power flanked by trainer Willie Mullins, groom & owner Rich Ricci. Image credit @Channel4Racing

4.10 OLBG Mares’ Hurdle (Registered as the David Nicholson Mares’ Hurdle) (Grade 1): Distance 2m 4f: 10 Fences: 19R NR Flementime

Desert Queen, Aurore D’Estruval and Melbourne Lady took the initiative at the race start with Vroum Vroum Mag travelling in the middle of the field. With seven to go Stephanie Frances was the back marker and around five lengths separated the front two runners. Desert Queen kept a small advantage at the back straight whilst Vroum Vroum Mag stayed about twelve lengths off the pace. However the horse was jumping well despite an anxious moment when Vroum Vroum Mag was sandwiched between Pass the Time and Aurore D’Estruval, and jockey Ruby Walsh looked unsteady in the saddle. Between the second last and final flight The Governess was allowed to let rip by the jockey and showed a quickening pace whilst Vroum Vroum Mag comfortably eased along in contention. Unfortunately The Governess took a heavy fall at the final jump which proved to be fatal. Vroum Vroum Mag at 4-6 F odds won by 2 ¾ lengths ahead of Rock On The Moor at 66-1. Just a half length behind 40-1 Legacy Gold took third with a length advantage over 80-1 Pass The Time.

Vroum Vroum Mag eases over the final flight. Image credit @Channel4Racing
Vroum Vroum Mag eases over the final flight. Image credit @Channel4Racing

4.50: 146th Year Of The National Hunt Chase Challenge Cup (Listed Amateur Riders Novices’ Chase): Distance 4m: Fences unknown: 20R

Winner: Minella Rocco 8-1 by 1 ¼ lengths ahead of Second: Native River 7-1 2F. Six lengths behind in Third: Measureofmydreams 9-1 and five lengths further back Fourth: Southfield Royale 5-1F.

5.30 Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase (Listed): Distance 2m 4f 78y: Fences unknown: 20R

Winner: Ballyalton 12-1 with a half length win over Second: Bouvreuil 14-1. Four and a half lengths behind Third: Double Shuffle 8-1 J2F with a 2 ½ length advantage over Fourth: Bridgets Pet 33-1


Royal Ascot racing view. Image credit @Channel4Racing
Royal Ascot racing view. Image credit @Channel4Racing

Day One

Queen Anne: 1. Solow 11-8 F, 2. Esoterique 16-1, 3. Cougar Mountain 16-1. Margins 1 L, Nk, and 2 L.

Coventry: 1. Buratino 6-1, 2. Air Force Blue 7-2 2F, 3. Eltezam 12-1, 4. Beaverbrook 33-1. Margins 2 L, 2L, ¾ L

King’s Stand: 1. Goldream 20-1, 2. Medicean Man 50-1, 3. Muthmir 3-1 2F, 4. Pearl Secret 14-1. Margins ShHd, Nk and ½ L. PHOTO-FINISH

St James’s Palace: 1. Gleneagles 8-1 JF, 2. Latharnagh 25-1. Margins 2 ½ L, ½ L and 2 ¾ L.

Ascot: 1. Clondaw Warrior 5-1 F, 2. Fun Mac 8-1, 3. Elishpour 25-1, 4. Noble Silk 20-1. Margins ½ L,   1 ½ L, and 2L.

Windsor Castle: 1. Washington DC 5-1 J2F, 2. Areen 14-1, 3. Steady Pace 4-1F, 4. Soap Aitken 5-1 J2F. Margins Hd, ¾ L and 1 ½ L

Day Two

Free Eagle defeated The Grey Gatsby in a photo-finish. Image credit @Channel4Racing
Free Eagle defeated The Grey Gatsby in a photo-finish. Image credit @Channel4Racing

Jersey: 1. Dutch Connection 14-1, 2. Fadhayyil 9-1, 3. Bossy Guest 8-1 J2F, 4. TVP1 14-1. Margins ½ L, ¾ L, Hd.

Queen Mary: 1. Acapulco 5-2F, 2. Easton Angel 13-2, 3. Besharah 6-1 2F, 4. Kurland 14-1. Margins    1 ½ L, 2 ½ L and 2 ½ L

Prince of Wales Stakes: 1. Amazing Maria 25-1, 2. Rizeena 7-1 J2F. Margins 2L, 2L, 2 ½ L.

Duke of Cambridge: 1. Free Eagle 5-2F, 2. The Grey Gatsby 9-2 2F, 3. Western Hymn 8-1. Margins ShHd, 2 ¾ L, and ½ L. PHOTO-FINISH

A close call between Free Eagle and The Grey Gatsby. Image credit @Channel4Racing
A close call between Free Eagle and The Grey Gatsby. Image credit @Channel4Racing

Royal Hunt Cup: 1. Gm Hopkins 8-1 2F, 2. Temptress 9-1, 3. Chil The Kite 16-1, 4. Balty Boys 25-1. Margins Nk, 1 ½ L, ½ L.

Sandringham Handicap: 1. Osaila 13-2 2F, 2. Always Smile 2-1F, 3. Touchline 15-2, 4. Jellicle Ball 8-1. Margins Nose, 1 ½ L, ShHd. PHOTO-FINISH

Day Three

Norfolk: 1. Waterloo Bridge 12-1, 2. Log Out Island 13-8 2F, 3. King of Rooks 11-8F. Margins ½ L, ½ L and ½ L.

Tercentenary: 1. Time Test 15-8F, 2. Peacock 5-1 2F, 3. Mustadeem 20-1. Margins 3 ¾ L, ¾ L, 3 ½ L

Ribblesdale: 1. Curvy 9-2 2F, 2. Pleascach 1-1 F, 3. Pamona 8-1. Margins 1L, 4L and ¾ L

GOLD CUP: 1. Trip to Paris 12-1, 2. Kingfisher 5-1, 3. Forgotten Rules 5-2F. Margins 1 ¼ L, Nk, ½ L

Gold Cup winner Trip to Paris. Image credit @sport_oliver
Gold Cup winner Trip to Paris. Image credit @sport_oliver

Britannia: 1. War Envoy 10-1, 2. Udododontu 14-1, 3. Sacrificial 28-1, 4. Carry on Deryck 33-1, 5. Rotherwick 20-1. Margins Nk, 1L, ¾ L.

King George V: 1. Space Age 9-1, 2. Scottish 7-1, 3. Marma’s Boy 16-1, 4. King Bolete 9-2 2F. Margins 1 ¼ L, ¾ L and ½ L.

 Day Four

Albany Stakes: 1. Illuminate 4-1F, 2. Ashadihan 12-1, 3. Elegant Supermodel 20-1, 4. Fireglow 20-1. Margins 1 ½ L, ShHd, 3 ¼ L.

King Edward VII Stakes: 1. Balios 3-1 2F, 2. Mr Singh 8-1. Margins 1 ¼ L, ¾ L and 1 ½ L.

Commonwealth Cup: 1. Muhaarar 10-1, 2. Limato 9-2 2F, 3. Anthem Alexander 8-1, 4. Salt Island   33-1. Margins 3 ¾ L, ¾ L and ShHd.

Victorious Muhaarar. Image credit @Channel4Racing
Victorious Muhaarar. Image credit @Channel4Racing

Coronation Stakes: 1. Ervedya 3-1 J2F, 2. Found 13-8F, 3. Lucida 3-1 J2F. Margins Nk, ½ L and 1 ¼ L

Duke of Edinburgh Stakes: 1. Arab Dawn 6-1 JF, 2. Ajman Bridge 8-1, 3. Astronereus 8-1, 4. Libran 20-1. Margins ½ L, 1 ¾ L, ShHd

Queens Vase: 1. Aloft 5-2F, 2. Tommy Docc 33-1, 3. Future Empire 12-1. Margins ½ L, ½ L and ½ L.

Day Five

Chesham: 1. Suits You 14-1, 2. Ballydoyle 7-4F, 3. Sixth Sense 12-1. Margins ShHd, 1 ¼ L and 2 ¾ L PHOTO-FINISH

Wolferton: 1. Mahsoob 7-4F, 2. Sennockian Star 12-1, 3. Fire Fighting 16-1. Margins ½ L, Hd, Hd.

Hardwicke: 1. Snow Sky 12-1, 2. Eagle Top 2-1 2F, 3. Postponed 7-2. Margins 3 ¾ L, Nose and 3 ¼ L.

DIAMOND JUBILEE: 1.Undrafted 14-1, 2. Brazen Beau 7-2 JF, 3. Astaire 25-1. Margins ½ L, 1 ¾ L, 1 ¼ L

Wokingham: 1. Interception 10-1, 2. .Robert Le Diable 12-1, 3. Lancelot Du Lac 25-1, 4. Related 50-1. Margins 1 ¼ L, 1 L and ¾ L

Queen Alexandra: 1. Oriental Fox 4-1, 2. Taws 25-1, 3. Teak 10-1. Margins 7L, ½ L and 2 ½ L.



Beautiful weather greeted the throngs of race goers attending the festival this week, with rain only clouding the final races on the last day. The official course going was Good to Firm (Firm in places) and regular watering of the ground (5mm on three consecutive nights) was required to keep the course in pristine condition.

9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2 to 1


When Snow Sky romped home to win the Hardwicke on the final day it gave trainer Sir Michael Stoute his ninth victory for the race.

Ryan Moore broke the post-war record of number of wins at Royal Ascot when he secured his ninth and final victory of the week aboard Aloft in the Queen’s Vase on day four. Not surprisingly this amazing achievement seen Ryan named most successful jockey of the meet.

Ryan Moore Royal Ascot top jockey. Image credit @Channel4Racing
Ryan Moore Royal Ascot top jockey. Image credit @Channel4Racing

There were nine unbeaten fillies from a field of 18 in the Albany on day four.


Ryan Moore secured his eighth win at Royal Ascot (on only the third day) aboard War Envoy in the Britannia Stakes. He has become the only jockey to reach this number since 1989 when Pat Eddery achieved the same feat. The only other post-war jockey to get eight wins in a Royal Ascot week was Lester Piggott in 1965 and 1975.

War Envoy. Image credit @Channel4Racing
War Envoy. Image credit @Channel4Racing


Trainer Aidan O’Brian watched his horse Gleneagles win the St James’s Palace Stakes giving him a record seventh victory in the race. At the end of the week O’Brian received his seventh award as most successful trainer for the festival.

Champion trainer Aidan O'Brian. Image credit @Channel4Racing
Champion trainer Aidan O’Brian. Image credit @Channel4Racing

The biggest winning margin of the week was seven lengths when Oriental Fox and jockey Joe Fanning romped home ahead of Taws in the very last race of the meeting. The win gave trainer Mark Johnston his first victory in the Queen Alexandra.

The Chesham at seven furlongs is the longest race of the week for two-year-olds.


Six different jockeys’ tasted success on the last day of racing and Ryan Moore surprisingly wasn’t one of them.


Royal Ascot is an incredible five day festival consisting of thirty races showcasing the best in British flat horse-racing.

The smallest field for the week seems to have been in the St James’ Palace where victorious Gleneagles only had four other competitors.

Gleneagles winner of the St James' Palace. Image credit @Channel4Racing
Gleneagles winner of the St James’ Palace. Image credit @Channel4Racing


With the last race on day two of the meeting jockey Frankie Dettori secured a 50th Royal Ascot victory on board Osaila. He now forms an illustrious quartet with Lester Piggott, Willie Carson and Pat Eddery who have achieved this milestone in their racing careers.

Frankie Dettori hits 50 (but not out). Image credit @sport_oliver
Frankie Dettori hits 50 (but not out). Image credit @sport_oliver

Free Eagle had only run four previous races before securing victory in a photo-finish with The Grey Gatsby in the Duke of Cambridge.

It was four wins from four when Mahsoob was first past the post in the Wolferton.

There were four photo-finishes over the five days of racing: King’s Stand, Duke of Cambridge, Sandringham and the Chesham. Not surprisingly the shortest winning margin came from one of these races, and the accolade went to Osaila winning the Sandringham by a nose.


On day one jockey Ryan Moore began his Royal Ascot Week with a terrific 54-1 treble, riding Gleneagles, Clondaw Warrior and Washington DC to victory in the final three races. He got another treble with Waterloo Bridge, Curvy and War Envoy on day three at 786-1 odds.

The GOLD CUP is only one of three races where the victor keeps the winning trophy, a Gold Cup being made especially each year.

The Queen presents trainer Ed Dunlop with the Gold Cup. Image credit @Channel4Racing
The Queen presents trainer Ed Dunlop with the Gold Cup. Image credit @Channel4Racing

It was a good week for Frankie Dettori with three wins: Osaila, Time Test and Undrafted.


Father and son trainers Barry and Charlie Hills watched their horses take first and second place in the Jersey Stakes. Son Charlie’s horse Dutch Connection secured victory over Barry’s horse Fadhayyil.

Ryan Moore only managed a double on day two with Acapulco and Gm Hopkins.

In the Queen Anne Stakes it was a French double with Solow and Esoterique.

Jockey Christophe Soumillon got his second ever win of the meeting when he rode Ervedya to victory in the Coronation Stakes on day four. Ironically Christophe’s 2015 win was the only time he had success at Ascot, as his previous success in 2005 was in York as Ascot was being re-developed.

Ervedya & Soumillon a Royal Ascot winning combination. Image credit @Channel4Racing
Ervedya & Soumillon a Royal Ascot winning combination. Image credit @Channel4Racing

Jockey Richard Hughes got a 34-1 double (Illuminate 4-1, Arab Dawn 6-1) in his last Royal Ascot taking his career tally for the meeting to 30 victories. He is retiring from the saddle to take up the reins of training.


The final furlong can be a dangerous place and Spark Plug had an awful fall when his legs were clipped in the Royal Hunt Cup? Thankfully both horse and jockey Jimmy Fortune seemed ok afterwards.

Trip to Paris gave trainer Ed Dunlop his first win of the GOLD CUP. Jockey Graham Lee possibly became the only rider to win the GOLD CUP and the Grand National having ridden Amberleigh House to victory at Aintree in 2004. It was Graham’s first ever win at Royal Ascot too.

 Graham Lee makes his own jockey history. Image credit @Channel4Racing
Graham Lee makes his own jockey history. Image credit @Channel4Racing

War Envoy in the Britannia on day three secured a first career victory since debuting in April 2014.

Jockey Cristian Demuro achieved his first ever Royal Ascot win with Suits You in the Chesham. The horse also gave trainer Eoghan O’Neill his first ever Royal Ascot victory too.

Day four seen the FIRST EVER Grade One race for Three year-olds taking place and the race was called the Commonwealth Cup.

Bits and Pieces

Many great horses raced this week but I was personally disappointed that American horse California Chrome and Michael Owen’s horse Brown Panther couldn’t take part through injury.

The Queen Alex is a stamina sapping course and the longest race in the British flat calendar with a distance of 2m 5 ½ f.

As well as the fantastic racing over the festival a highlight on day one was the unveiling of a statue of Frankel.

Frankel statue unveiled at Royal Ascot. Image credit @tdthurgood
Frankel statue unveiled at Royal Ascot. Image credit @tdthurgood

SEABISCUIT & ARKLE: Parallels Between Two “Once In A Generation” Horses

Although there are some glaring differences between Seabiscuit and Arkle, the similarities in my opinion, far outweigh them. Each lived to be a similar age; Seabiscuit foaled 1933 died May 17th 1947, Arkle foaled 1957 died May 31st 1970; and raced in era-defining periods of time. Seabiscuit FLAT RACED during the depression years of 1930s America, whilst Arkle ran in STEEPLE-CHASE (jump) events throughout the UK and Ireland during the Swinging Sixties. Both horses’ exploits on the field held audiences captive, with millions in the US listening on radio to hear Seabiscuit news, and the medium of TV allowing the British public a chance to witness Arkle in full flight. Such was their popularity each horse could be described as the “Peoples Champion” of their day, making front page news and receiving get well messages from adoring fans from far and wide, after suffering serious injury. Seabiscuit managed a comeback to finally win the only accolade to elude him, but although Arkle recovered from injury a comeback never happened. Their career statistics are part of horse-racing folklore and both have been immortalised with a statue. Seabiscuit stands proudly at the Santa Anita Racetrack in California and Arkle at Cheltenham, the scenes of their greatest achievements. In fact more statues have been erected in their honour over the last decade, showing the reverence held for them both to this day. Earlier this year (2014) Arkle had a full-sized statue unveiled in his native Ireland, whilst Seabiscuit is honoured at Ridgewood Ranch where he lived and also in Alberta the home state of George Woolf.

Seabiscuit. Image Credit
Seabiscuit. Image Credit

Three Essential Ingredients: Owner, Trainer & Jockey

Both horses calibre of racing pedigree was never in question with Seabiscuit coming from mare Swing On and sired by Hard Tack, whilst Arkle was born from mare Bright Cherry sired by Archive. However that potential of latent talent endowed from good DNA stock needs to be nurtured. A combination of benevolent owner, an intuitive trainer and an instinctive jockey are also required to get the best from a horse.

Crooked legged and undersized Seabiscuit was initially trained by Sunny Jim Fitzsimmons who deemed the horse lazy. As a consequence of being unfairly labelled, the horse was raced heavily and whipped without mercy in his early years. In 1935 a juvenile Seabiscuit ran 35 low budget races and in 1936 his tally was only marginally smaller with 23 races run. With only fleeting success “The Biscuit” was offloaded in a claiming race to Charles Howard who probably got the bargain of the century at the time. The horse had found his benevolent owner who employed the intuitive Tom Smith as trainer. For the remainder of his career Seabiscuit came under the instinctive careful handling of Red Pollard as jockey. When Pollard was injured George Woolf took the reins in the Race of the Century against War Admiral. More lightly raced in his later years Seabiscuit bloomed to win 33 of his 89 career starts over six years and in the process broke several track records with his pace.

Watch the Seabiscuit v. War Admiral Duel known as the Race of the Century (held 1st November 1938) here.

In complete contrast to the American horse, Irish born Arkle (reasonable-sized and sleek limbed) enjoyed the care and attention of breeder Mary Baker at the Bally McColl Stud until the age of three. He was sold at sales for 1150 guineas, and the yet un-named horse came under the ownership of Anne the Duchess of Westminster. Whereas Seabiscuit ran 35 races in his FIRST SEASON Arkle ran a CAREER TOTAL of 35 races winning 27 of them, some with unbelievable winning margins (Sandown 1965 Gallagher Gold Cup by 20 lengths) and several involving track records. Pat Taaffe was the jockey who coaxed the best out of Arkle and trainer Tom Dreaper who nurtured the talent.

Arkle in full flight. Image credit
Arkle in full flight. Image credit

Great Weights, Great Wins and Terrible Injury

It was clear to the racing authorities that both horses were in a class of their own and as a result each was handicapped harshly. Both Seabiscuit and Arkle had to carry significantly heavier weights than their opponents and yet both still managed to win races with relative ease. Arkle’s supremacy even caused the rules of handicapping to be changed in the UK, and he set a Timeform Record with a rating of 212.

You can watch Arkle’s race of the century-his 1964 Cheltenham Gold Cup win here.

The Irish steeple-chaser won several top ranking events, but probably the three Cheltenham Gold Cup wins of 1964. 65 and 1966 are considered the most prestigious. Seabiscuit ran in the Santa Anita Handicap three times and really should have won them all. His big race was constantly dogged by unfortunate incidents. In 1937 the American bay colt had all but secured victory but was beaten by a nose at the photo finish. Jockey Red Pollard had eased off on the reins and literally didn’t see Rosemont gain toward the finish, because Pollard was blind in one eye! The following year Pollard was injured and George Woolf took the reins, with Seabiscuit giving as much as 30 pounds to his rivals. Victory at the wire (a bobbing head duel) went to Stagehand in 1938, and then in 1939 little more than two weeks before the big race, Seabiscuit suffered a ruptured left front suspensory ligament. Tom Smith tenderly nursed Seabiscuit back to health, and Red Pollard dragged his battered body back to a semblance of fitness. The scene was set for “The Biscuit” to make a comeback and he finally won that elusive Santa Anita Handicap title in 1940 aged seven with Pollard on board.

You can watch Seabiscuit & Red Pollard win the Santa Anita Handicap of 1940 here.

Seabiscuit had suffered his tendon injury mid race and yet still managed to come second in it. In a similar fashion Arkle suffered a broken pedal bone in his hoof in the King George VI Chase of 1966 at Kempton and ran on bravely to finish second, but Arkle never managed a career comeback.

Geographical & Equine Rivals

Seabiscuit represented the West Coast of the USA and his greatest rival was War Admiral from the East Coast. The only time they met was in the two horse Race of the Century in 1938 where it was said Seabiscuit broke War Admiral’s heart.

“I saw something in the Admiral’s eyes that was pitiful. He looked all broken up. Horses, mister, can have crushed hearts just like humans”. George Woolf quote in Laura Hillenbrand book Seabiscuit Three Men And A Racehorse.

Arkle represented Ireland and his big rival was English horse Mill House. They would race each other several times with Arkle being victorious in all but one of their meetings. Again it was generally felt that Arkle broke Mill House’s heart as well.

Interestingly both horses had stable rivals that could have been their equal. Arkle’s stable mate was Flyingbolt and it is said they only met once on the training ground, and never on the competitive race track. In Seabiscuit’s case his stable rival was Kayak II and they were regular sparring partners in morning workouts. When Seabiscuit was injured just before the 1939 Santa Anita Handicap, Kayak II took his place and won it. The following year Kayak II was close behind in second place to the victorious Seabiscuit.

Once In a Generation

Both horses were certainly individuals imbued with great courage, stamina, grit, talent, and possessed an amazing accelerator. Each displayed a quirky personality; I mean who could forget Arkle ploughing through a fence for example in his third Gold Cup win of 1966. Seabiscuit was decidedly temperamental at times but considering his early career and how he was treated it is not surprising. The racing style of both Seabiscuit and Arkle meant that they almost seemed to “toy with their opponents, teasing them to catch up” and yet NEITHER would be pushed around. Both established race records that stand to this day and considering the prize money they won, BOTH would literally have been worth their weight in gold. With their equine charisma and superstardom in their own day, Seabiscuit and Arkle can most certainly be attributed with that rare accolade of being a “once in a generation horse”.